Thursday, July 5, 2012

Meat Loaf Burgers with Caramelized Onions

Your choices abound these days for meatless crumbles to shape into homemade burgers.  My preference is Lightlife's ground beef, which is moist and shapes well into patties, but Yves Veggie, Tofurky, and other brands also make great versions.  No pink slime here, just the taste of homemade meat loaf transformed into burgers.  Using rye bread instead of a bun adds a homey touch.

For the onions:
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 4 and 1/2 cups vertically sliced red onion
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon vegan sugar
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
For the burgers:
  • Cooking spray
  • 1 cup finely chopped green bell pepper
  • 1 cup finely chopped celery
  • 1 cup crushed whole wheat crackers*
  • 1/3 cup ketchup, divided
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 14 ounces meatless crumbles
  • 1 Ener-G egg
  • 12 (1.25-ounce) slices rye bread
1. To prepare the onions, heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Add the red onion and 1/4 teaspoon salt; saute for 12 minutes.  Stir in the sugar and balsamic vinegar; cook for 30 seconds.  Remove the onion mixture from the pan.

2. Coat the pan with cooking spray, and add the bell pepper and celery; saute for 3 minutes.

3. Combine the bell pepper and celery in a bowl with the crushed crackers, 1/4 cup ketchup, thyme, 1/4 teaspoon salt, meatless crumbles, and Ener-G egg.  Mix with your hands and divide into 6 portions, shaping each into a 1/2-inch thick patty.

4. Cook on a grill rack or indoor grill pan coated with cooking spray for 5 minutes.  Turn the patties over and brush with the remaining ketchup.  Cook for a final 5 minutes.

Note: you can also broil the burgers for the same amount of time.  Either way, take care when flipping them over, as the addition of all those veggies makes the patties delicate.

5. Toast the bread slices - I recommend toasting in the oven, otherwise you'll be swapping batch after batch from a countertop toaster for a while.  Try toasting under the broiler for about 1 to 2 minutes on each side.

6. Place 1 patty on each of 6 toast slices.  Top each patty with 1/4 cup onion mixture, and an additional bread slice.

Round out your burger menu with corn on the cob. 

If you want the easiest dessert ever, try this quick peach crisp: drain 2 (14.5-ounce) cans Whole Foods 365 sliced peaches, and arrange the peaches in an 8-inch square baking dish.  In a bowl, combine 3/4 cup crushed gingersnap cookies (such as Mi-del) and 2 tablespoons vegan brown sugar; sprinkle over the peaches.  Bake at 400 degrees for 15 minutes. 

*For the crackers, try Whole Foods' wheat square crackers, or any other organic cracker similar to wheat thins.  The easiest way to crush them is to place in a large zip-top plastic bag and seal; pound with a meat mallet into crumbles.  You can use the same method for the gingersnaps in the peach crisp. 

Nutrition Info:
6 servings (1 burger), Calories 419 

Tasting Notes:
Awesomely awesome.  The meat loaf has all the homey flavors you no doubt  remember from childhood, except fresher and lighter from the addition of celery and bell pepper. In combination with the rye bread and the just-sweet-enough caramelized onions, you'll get a perfect bite every time.  Every diner in town should start serving this burger.


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